Our practitioners recently received new FGM training. As a result, one became aware that a child at her school was at risk: she had a FGM Protection Order (more on this below) put in place and kept the girl safe.
Definition of FGM: Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises of all procedures that involve altering the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, and the procedure can result in severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections and infertility, as well as complications in childbirth that increase risk of newborn deaths.
A girl at risk of FGM may be unaware of it. But she might speak about or you may become aware of:
- a long holiday abroad or going ‘home’ to visit family
- an older female family member visiting from abroad
- a special occasion or ceremony to ‘become a woman’
- a female family member being cut – a sister, cousin, or an older relative such as a mother or aunt
A girl who’s had FGM may:
- be absent from school unexpectedly and sometimes repeatedly
- have trouble walking, standing or sitting
- spend longer than normal in the toilet
- be particularly reluctant to see a doctor or the school nurse
- ask for help but refuse to give specifics about the problem
- showing any of the following behaviours: becoming withdrawn, aggressive, depressed, anxious, clingy or obsessive
- the above is particularly risky when occurring after a prolonged absence from school
- produce academic work of a lower standard than usual
The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 was amended recently to include FGM Protection Orders (FGMPO). An FGMPO is a civil measure which can be applied for through a family court, and breach of an FGM Protection Order is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.
An FGMPO is unique to each case and contain legally binding conditions, prohibitions and restrictions to protect the person at risk of FGM. These may include:
- confiscating passports or travel documents of the girl at risk and/or family members or other named individuals to prevent girls from being taken abroad
- ordering that family members or other named individuals should not aid another person in anyway to commit or attempt to commit an FGM offence, such as prohibiting bringing a “cutter” to the UK for the purpose of committing FGM
- The court can make an order in an emergency so that protection is in place straightaway
More info: FGMPO Government Fact Sheet